Jessica Day George

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Top 11- Young Adult!

Ahh, Young Adult! A tricky genre to be sure! Very popular right now, of course, flooded with worthy titles . . . but writing YA can be harder than it looks. Character is all important, especially the main character. The author has to find that balance, got to create characters that read like real teens, and not just what they personally think of teens. Not too mature, not too whiny . . . not too obviously written by an adult, in short. My number one pick here does that perfectly. The narrator is so realistically drawn that I could have read about her and her friends for several hundred more pages. But alas, all good things must come to an end, and so it was with the amazing

1. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver


2. Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

As some of you may know, I am not the hugest fan of the "YA paranormal romance" subgenre. Usually I am bothered by the fact that the guy is usually a) a monster and b) really, really old, making the relationship just wildly inappropriate from every angle. This book, however, is delightfully different in that our narrator, whom I FREAKING LOVE, is herself very old (VERY old) and not without powers of her own. I described this book to my sister as "Norse gods in rehab," and I stick to that description, even though it does not do justice to the hilarity, drama, suspense, and wonder of this book.

3. Jane by April Lindner

Yes, Pride and Prejudice is a great book, I am not going to argue that with anyone. But if I had to pick my favorite 19th century novel I would go with Jane Eyre every time. I'm sorry, but there it is. I love that book. And so with fascination I picked up the advance readers' copy of this little gem, an updated version of the story featuring a mousy nanny going to work for a washed up rock star. The modernization was flawless, giving new life to the story, and there was a perfect balance between the new elements and the old. It didn't ever make me think "THIS is supposed to be Jane Eyre," but I also never felt bored, like, "Yeah, yeah, now the brother-in-law shows up." I read this book in one day, ignoring children and other obligations, I was so hooked.

4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I know, some fans were angry. To them I say, write your own book, then. This was Collins' world, and Collins' story, and she ended it how she started it, with gorgeous amounts of anguish, anger, love, and hope. Katniss Everdeen was a tragic and wonderful heroine, a teenager forced into a role that she didn't want and none of us knew if she could fulfill, and this book was an amazing finale for her.

5. Forever Princess by Meg Cabot

Has our Princess Mia finally achieved self-actualization? If not, she's come awfully close! Mia's all growed up and saving Genovia, and while I'll be sad to see the last of her, this was the perfect ending for this series as well! Adieu, Mia! Adieu, Grandmere!

6. Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst

I've always fantasized about gargoyles coming to life, heck there's a gargoyle housekeeper in Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. But what if they came to life, and were up to no good?! YIKES! An exciting look at the perils of applying to college!

7. Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? by Louise Rennison

Another great YA series ended this year! So we must say "Auf Wiedersehen, my little pally!" to Georgia! But we are so glad that she has at last chosen from the menu of the Cake Shop of Luuuuurve! HOOOOOOORN!

8. Going Bovine by Libba Bray

This Printz Award Winner is a mad journey through Mad Cow Disease, as a modern-day Don Quixote goes on a quest through the It's A Small World! ride and Spring Break, aided by a punked out angel, a talking lawn gnome, and a germaphobic little person. Yes, it's that crazy. There's a reason why they call it "Mad" Cow Disease . . .

9. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is a hard book to read. The protagonist is anorexic, and she doesn't want to get better. This is a very close, very accurate, and very moving look at eating disorders, mental illness, and family relationships.

10. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

So icky, but so good. The fluids fly as a young apprentice assists his scientist master in tracking and killing an infestation of hideous creatures straight out of nightmare!

11. I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

Egad! Speaking of fluids! I am normally not a horror novel person, but I could not put this book down. It was wonderfully creepy, and amazingly well plotted!

Honorable Mentions go out to:

Girl In the Arena by Lise Haines
Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey
and Circle of Flight by John Marsden

Go forth, as I always say, and READ!


Bonnie @ A Backwards Story said...

I agree with everything you just said about Mockingjay. I don't understand the people who hated it. The final book tore me apart and I didn't think Collins could have done anything different. The story was always dark and gritty. People built things up too much and expected something that was never promised. >.<

I've read and enjoyed so many of the books on your wonder I like reading your work. :-)

Kim said...

Good grief--I need to read more YA! Of your list, I've only read Mockingjay, Going Bovine, and The Monstrumologist. The Monstrumologist was so horrifyingly awesome! And not for the faint of stomach. So not my kind of book, but I couldn't put it down!

Right now I'm reading Anna and the French Kiss, and it's very sweet. I just finished up The Sky is Everywhere, and was amazed by the voice. I definitely need to read more contemporary YA.

Kami said...

I loved Girl in the Arena, and I completely agree with the Mockingjay bit. I think the ending was perfect. War and everything else Katniss went through does stuff to you, and I thought the execution of that book was perfect. I enjoyed the Princess Diary books a little too much. They are my guilty pleasure.

Mindy said...

I just had to drop in and say that you are a bit of a hero in my house :) My girls and I started reading Dragon Slippers when we found out your were coming to speak at the library several months ago. Then, something unexpectedly came up and we couldn't make it. My girls still talk about how sad they are that they didn't get to meet "their favorite author." My 9 yr. old is reading "Sun, Moon, Ice and Snow right now and keeps coming in the tell me what part she is at (I have already read it and she wants to discuss it with me). Also, thank you for all the good book recommendations. I will have to go add a few to my library hold list... :)

Heather Moore said...

Yeah, I Am Not a Serial Killer was definitely creepy good.

Thanks for the most excellent list!

Danielle said...

I liked a lot of these (Jane Eyre is my FAVORITE classic, so I can't wait to get my hands on Jane) but I stopped reading Before I Fall after the main character made a slur about "the short bus brigade" I wasn't really enjoying the main character much to begin with, but I was trying to press on because I liked other books that were reviewed by Bookshoptalk (Keturah and Lord Death for instance)

Anonymous said...


First of all, let me say that I LOVE your books (I've read them all), had the pleasure of meeting you and making you sign all my books, and now stalk your website (yes, I'm a creeper). You might not even read this, but I was wondering... Jane Eyre is also my favorite nineteenth century novel (no, really), and when I got Jane, I was immediately sucked in. I was, however, kind of bothered by the swear words and a middle section. What do you think about them? How far is too far in young adult, and how do you personally judge that? Thanks!